Orlando Fringe Festival 2021: “ The Infinite Conversation ”, “ Mind Eater ” and “ Requiem ”
The endless conversation
BYOV: Mead Botanical Garden Grove, $ 12
After nearly four years of watching performance artist Sumner Mormeneo develop her innovative fusion of mime and video mapping at the Immerse Festival in Orlando, the start of his Endless conversation was at the top of my most anticipated list for the 2021 Fringe. Everything I loved about those early clips remains, as the mute, white-faced Mormeneo interacts with a breathtaking stream of digital dreamscapes overflowing with nods of explicit head to Charlie Chaplin and Salvador Dalí, as well as to Buñuel. An Andalusian dog and Magritte The son of the man. Mormeneo’s powerful projector quartet brings piles of cardboard boxes and hanging sheets to life, as furniture floats and flickering shadows dance to a thrilling punk-pop soundscape starring Kongos and Paramore.
Yes The endless conversation were confined to those 20 minutes of intoxicating surreal sequences, that would be a slam dunk, but the duration of the series is filled with long stretches of under-motivated movement that dissipates any momentum. While the outdoor stage at Mead Botanical Garden provides a bucolic backdrop, this spectacle would be best served indoors; I was far too busy wiping out swarms of bloodthirsty bugs to be able to follow the dense, jargon-filled pre-recorded dialogue that too dominates the series. Mormeneo is an exciting visual artist to pay attention to; I just wish he had trusted the strength of his images to tell his story, and leave all the jokes to others.
Pollock, $ 12
Japanese theater group Gumbo hit the 2019 Orlando Fringe hit with their outrageous satire of fast food Do you like him?, and even though I laughed out loud, I was a little embarrassed by the show’s reductionist take on Americans. This year, they relaunched their first success Spirit eater, which was originally developed over 20 years ago for Australian and Asian audiences.
Thankfully, their mocking meditation on reincarnation and love seems much more universal, while still being just as funny. Abandoned Girlfriend Desperate To Lose Weight; a woman in love looking for a suicidal partner; and an altruist who goes a little too far “give until it hurts” are the three souls whose burlesque life cycles we observe, alongside a green sequined animator and a silk dancing angel dental. The underlying message – we’re all connected, we’re following your heart – appears in any language, and the medium (glowing giant jellyfish, flying internal organs, and padded sumo costume) is like an anime fever dream that comes to life on stage. It’s a small miracle that the Theater Group Gumbo moved from Osaka to Orlando, but even if they had only taken one intercity bus, their seething absurd acts would deserve my standing ovation.
Orange Venue, $ 12
Trigger warning: This is the most difficult review I’ve had to write so far for the Orlando Fringe 2021. On the one hand, Opera del Sol’s Requiem is an ambitious, talented production with a vitally important goal: to bring attention to America’s deadly opioid epidemic. The story, written and directed by Michael Knight, follows a girl (Fabiola Rivera) as she switches from a prescribed pain reliever to a car accident victim so she can function normally to a desperate drug addict who is going in rehab, is assaulted, has a miscarriage. and finally overdoses. It’s all told by Music Director Nishaa Johnson’s mash-up of opera standards by Mozart and Bizet, mixed with hits from Radiohead, Evanescence and Miley Cyrus.
RequiemThe production values of are strong; there are spectacular singers in the cast; Rivera deserves a Purple Heart for her flawless star trick. Opera del Sol even partnered with Project Opioid to distribute the life-saving drug Narcan after the performances. So it pains me to say that not only did the show not work for me, it actively angered me. While there are many strong individual elements, they never blend into an aesthetic whole, just as inconsistent audio mixing puts too much emphasis on the prickiest members of the choir. More disturbingly, the decision to anthropomorphize Addiction (Mathew Fackler) as the literal red-skinned and horned devil is representative of a moral thread and blaming the victim throughout the show that I found all over. quite disturbing.
In RequiemIn the world, addiction is caused by society defining pain as abnormal instead of encouraging people to just smile and endure it, while the sole purpose of doctors is to profit by dispensing death. No consideration is given to patients with genuine pain management needs, many of whom are now being pushed into more dangerous black market drugs through anti-opioid hysteria, and no criticism is cast on drug makers or government entities that conspired to fuel the crisis while resisting safer options like medical marijuana.
Requiem was clearly born out of deep personal pain, and her heart is in the right place. But I’m afraid of that Reefer Madness– strange propaganda could do more harm than good to vulnerable people who might be drawn to its message.
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